The blood-filtering cells in the kidneys - called podocytes - are critical to kidney function, and kidney failure can occur when as little as about 20 percent to 30 percent of them are lost, said a new study that appeared in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
Scientists tried if they could manoeuvre podocytes to be generated from other key kidney cells - termed parietal epithelial cells (PEC) - as a potential treatment strategy for kidney failure.
In experiments done in mice, the researchers found that podocytes cannot be renewed from parietal cells.
In fact, after the loss of podocytes, parietal cells play a negative role by causing kidney scarring that contributes to progressive kidney function decline.
"This opens a key strategy to prevent loss of kidney function by inhibiting the parietal cells from doing their destructive work," said Marcus Moeller from RWTH University of Aachen in Germany.
The researchers, however, found an additional but limited reserve of podocytes that are present at birth and become mature and functional filter cells by adulthood.
"Our results indicate that research efforts should be directed towards preserving our limited pool of filter cells and to develop pharmacological strategies to inhibit scarring of the kidney by parietal cells," concluded Moeller.
In India, nearly 5.4 lakh patients require kidney transplant every year but only 6,000 are able to get it.
Nearly 60 million people globally have chronic kidney disease and two million have kidney failure, said the study.
--IANS (Posted on 10-01-2014)